Tag Archives: baby shower

No one puts baby in the corner

There are rituals and observations that every new parent must endure and observe. Certain tasks that must be performed in just the right way, so as to avoid ruining the life of the child and isolating and offending all of your closest family. Typically these are simple things, like, feeding your new infant and not leaving it on the roof of the car as you pull out of the driveway. Occaisionally they are dangerous things, like, fighting off a pack of hungry wolves with a burning table leg while fleeing Siberia during the October revolution, or registering your child with a desirable day care service.

Most often though, these things that we must do are easy, and even fun. Tasks like video taping the kid’s first steps, taking a nap with him laying on your chest, or teaching him how to design a defensive position with overlapping fields of fire that intersect predicted enemy approach angles and has adequate overhead cover to mitigate damage from incoming mortar fire, are all rewarding and enjoyable.

A limited few of these obligations are rife with potential obstacles and unforeseen complications, and must be performed regardless of need, lest you ostracize your closest friends and family. Such is the baby shower.

Don’t scoff. I can hear you scoffing! Baby showers are minefields of potential disaster with far reaching consequences. Did you forget to invite a rich Aunt? Does the cake include ingredients that will send any attendees into anaphylactic shock? Will the mother to be freak out about colors of the guest book? Did the invitations include the address? Will anyone guess the circumference of the mother’s belly? Did we buy enough beer?

Cameron, post cake cutting

Despite all the risk, we elected to go ahead with the baby shower. Lot’s of people showed up, including my sister who flew in from Texas. Close to 50 people (including toddlers and infants) sat around eating, talking, drinking and giving us gifts. The number of attendees seemed to surprise Cameron who evidently believes we are social pariahs living on a secluded island in the Baltic Sea, with no friends or contact with civilized company. It did not surprise me, because I know we aren’t lepers; and the invitations said we’d be serving food. People are suckers for free food.

The cake

If you attended, thank you. Your generosity and friendship are appreciated. It’s nice to have such good friends. If you didn’t attend, man you missed out. I cooked Kahlua Pork. My grind pretty ono for haole. There were also giraffe cookies, a Jedi cake, and plenty of beer. Click through for the rest of the pictures.

Me and Cameron

The peculiar hazards of registering for a baby shower.

When I got married, many people used the lure of the wedding registry to help soften the blow of Wedding Chaos. It was suggested, rather explicitly, that even though several months of my life would evaporate into barely controlled chaos where the sane peaks would be represented by shouting matches over the color of napkins and the dark valleys would be circular arguments about family members that would surely end in tears or bloodshed, the wedding registry would more than compensate for my life derailing through the sort of comedic tragedy that is normally reserved for romantic comedies.

The wedding registry was, allegedly, some sort of miraculous and transcendental consumer experience that would salve all wounds and remedy all problems. As a child I would spend the weeks leading up to Christmas, flipping through the pages of the Sears catalog. I would select and make detailed lists of all the items I wished for Santa to deliver to me, ideally, free of charge. The lists were accompanied by calculations and even to my pre-teen mind, which had yet to form a clear understanding of the value of money through years of labor and tax payments, my greed was staggering.

The wedding registry, I was promised, shared the essential mechanics of my youthful Christmas ritual. I would select items that I would care to receive, and a list would be generated, accompanied by calculations that would allow me to appreciate that my greed for consumer goods had only increased beyond compensation for inflation. I could even register at Sears, where it was noted with a knowing elbow prod to the ribs and a conspiratorial wink, that one could add power tools and electronics to the registry.

The only significant difference between the wedding registry and sitting cross legged on the living room floor armed with the 1982 Sears Wish Book and a calculator, is the results. As a child I would “accidently” leave my lists laying about in conspicuous spots in the hope that my parents would make note of my selections and perhaps use it as a guideline for gift purchasing. My parents were either very inattentive to details, or attempting to teach me a lesson about money, because I don’t recall this plan ever working. As an adult with a wedding registry however, I could create a list of excruciating detail, make specific demands on model numbers, colors and quantity, and even rank items in order of priority, and people would buy them them for me!

Naturally, I assumed that a baby shower registry would be a similar exercise in wish fulfillment and consumer greed. Something that would dull the sharp edge of impending fatherhood by providing me an opportunity wander around a retail establishment armed with a laser pistol that magically granted me gifts.

I could not have been more wrong. I suspect that the baby registry will mark the Rubicon of my decline from confident, educated and logical young man into feeble minded and high strung foolish father with poor decision making skills.

A wedding registry is all about you, and what you desire. The things you select and request are not necessities. As helpful as a multi-speed stand mixer with a 5 quart detachable bowl is, it is not something you need to prevent the death of you or your spouse. A baby registry, on the other hand, is all about procuring things for your infant. Most of these items are very cleverly marketed in such a fashion as to imply to the mother, that without it, your child will die.

A mother bear will charge and attempt to consume a Toyota Prius if she believes it may increase the chance of risk to her cubs. Human mothers have a similar tendency to ere on the side of caution in defense of their children. Lacking the bear’s natural fear and antagonism to passenger vehicles, a human mother will instead rely on the helpful and altruistic assistance of retail outlets and consumer good companies to determine where she should focus her paranoia and fear.

The baby registry is therefore, not a simple exercise in selecting desired items, but a grueling and stressful test of a marriage where the selection of an infant thermometer becomes a gamble on the life of your future child. Selecting an infant bathtub isn’t simply a matter of determining which color matches your nursery and how convenient the device appears to be, but rather a decision frighteningly laced with the possibility that the product may contribute to the increased risk of death by drowning. Bottles must be BPA free. Diapers need to omit chlorine. Infant carriers must restrain without choking. Cribs must not have slats too far apart, or too close together. Additionally, and this struck me as unfair, you can not add power tools to a baby registry.

This was not fun.

To increase the stress of the situation, my wife is an Engineer. She seemed to be under the impression that this activity could be treated like a complex design problem involving comparison of lists, check of items off the list, and adding items to the list that were absent. This was something that could be calculated, weighed, compared against standards charts and crucial decisions about the future of our child would be revealed in the determination of product selection.

Random selections I made based on the simple algorithm of “Oh! Monkeys!” earned scorn and condemnation. If she heard the beep of the laser gun from another aisle, she would come running and I would suffer a withering glare and a stern lecture about my impulsiveness. This was not a game. This was important. Why was I trying to make her upset.

This lasted for nearly three hours.

It was grueling. I’ve participated in activities involving forced marching and the digging of large holes that were more emotionally satisfying. In the end though, we survived. Most of the important items on our lists were selected, and an additional list of items still needed was generated by careful comparison of the days results with other lists already secured. Neither one of us broke down in tears in the store, and I count that as a success. We did have one close call however, when my taste and judgement were called into question over the selection of crib sheets. I contended it had monkeys, she contended that is more of a nautical theme and therefore inappropriate in some fashion. I narrowly averted throwing a tantrum but managed to satisfy myself with a dour expression, a stomp of the foot, and the exclamation, “you’re a meany!”

At this rate of decline, the child will be raising us before it reaches the 8th grade.